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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Medicaid Expansion Faces Crucial Hearing Tuesday

Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Tuesday brings a crucial test for Medicaid expansion in Montana. Republican Senator Ed Buttrey’s bill to offer the government-funded health coverage to about 70,000 more Montanans faces a hearing before the same committee that killed a similar proposal by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

Troy resident Stephanie Wallace is hoping Buttrey’s bill advances.

"Anything would be better than nothing," Wallace says.

Wallace makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it is now, but not enough to qualify for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act to buy private coverage. Some statehouse Republicans say people in her situation should take on extra work to boost their incomes high enough to get the subsidies. Wallace says her husband, an unemployed miner, can’t find work.

"I’m a mother of two. I’m a wife, I have a full time job, I am able-bodied. I work, and I still don’t qualify for any health coverage."

Senator Buttrey’s Medicaid expansion bill, Senate Bill 405 is scheduled to be heard in Republican Representative ArtWittich’s House Human Services Committee Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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